On Friday, the Manchester Art Gallery took down John William Waterhouse’s “Hylas and the Nymphs” painting to appease the social justice Left’s latest hysteria amid the #MeToo wave. Not even postcards of the pre-Raphaelite painting will be allowed to be sold in the gallery’s shop.
The mere image of the young naked nymphs tempting a man to his doom is apparently too problematic for the times in which we live.
In place of the painting was a notice that explained the removal occurred “to prompt conversations about how we display and interpret artworks in Manchester’s public collection,” reports The Guardian.
The decision to remove the painting was fueled by the anti-sexual harassment Time’s Up and #MeToo campaigns, admits Clare Gannaway, the curator of contemporary art at the gallery.
The movements, which have produced some good outcomes, have arguably spun out of control. Many have criticized the campaigns for demonizing men and stamping out any semblance of the notion of due process. And, as we see here, the #MeToo train is now fueling the censorship of prominent artwork.
The painting hung in a room called “In Pursuit of Beauty,” which showcased paintings boasting much female nudity from the late 19th century. This, too, was problematic.
“Gannaway said the title was a bad one, as it was male artists pursuing women’s bodies, and paintings that presented the female body as a passive decorative art form or a femme fatale,” reports The Guardian.
“For me personally, there is a sense of embarrassment that we haven’t dealt with it sooner. Our attention has been elsewhere … we’ve collectively forgotten to look at this space and think about it properly. We want to do something about it now because we have forgotten about it for so long,” said Gannaway.
The curator openly said the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements fed the decision to remove the art, though she maintains this was done to merely “provoke debate.”
“It wasn’t about denying the existence of particular artworks,” she said.
Many have been taken aback by the blantant censorship, such as artist Michael Browne.
“I don’t like the replacement and removal of art and being told ‘that’s wrong and this is right,'” said Browne. “They are using their power to veto art in a public collection. We don’t know how long the painting will be off the wall — it could be days, weeks, months. Unless there are protests it might never come back.”
“I know there are other works in the basement that are probably going to be deemed offensive for the same reasons and they are not going to see the light of day,” he added.
Gannaway says the painting will “probably” be returned, “but hopefully contextualised quite differently.”